Peer Tutor Spotlight – Matthew Hartono

Photo source: Matthew Hartono

Hi! My name is Matthew Hartono and I am originally from South Tangerang, Indonesia. I went to high school in Singapore before moving to Vancouver in early 2021. I realized that I did not want to pursue a purely scientific degree, and that led to me combining my knowledge in the sciences with my passion and interest in food to pursue a BSc in Food and Nutritional Sciences.

Outside of my academic pursuits, I was previously a counselor for the Faculty of Land and Food Systems Undergraduate Society for 2 years, serving as an engagement coordinator, and I also love playing badminton, cycling, hiking, and snowboarding. Academically, I’ve been a Trek Scholar for the past 2 years and have also been peer tutoring BIOL 112 for 2 years.

What do you most enjoy about being a peer tutor?

I love being involved with the UBC community, be it through events like Storm The Wall or through academic positions such as peer tutoring! I see becoming a peer tutor as my way of getting myself involved with the university as well as with other students. Besides that, I also love challenging questions and it’s always exciting when someone comes into office hours and asks me something new that can make it a learning experience for everyone. I also love sharing knowledge and helping others understand concepts in biology and it’s immensely satisfying to see students grasp challenging concepts and witness their growth and progress throughout the course.

What has being a peer tutor brought to your undergraduate experience?

Being a peer tutor has also taught me valuable skills that I would not be able to learn in the classroom, such as improving my ability to work with a group of people under my guidance, developing patience, and practicing empathy, all of which can be valuable and applicable in any position in the future. Furthermore, being a peer tutor has allowed me to develop connections with both faculty members and other students, some of whom I became close friends with after the completion of the course. This experience has also made me more appreciative of the effort professors put in to properly educate us and make sure we get a world-class quality education.

How has your unique background influenced your peer tutoring experience?

Before university, I had the opportunity to both teach as a private tutor and intern at my secondary school back in Indonesia as an 8th grade biology teacher. As such, I had previous exposure to teaching and working with large groups of people. But I must say, the experience could not be any more different with being a peer tutor. As a peer tutor, there is less of an instructor dynamic as I am also able to connect and relate to them as a student who has taken the course beforehand, allowing me to explain concepts to them in a more understandable manner.

What is something you are currently doing/recently did at UBC that you are excited about?

In my 3rd year, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Derek Dee Food Protein Biophysics Lab for 4 months where I got to put theory into practice by doing some hands-on lab work involving the synthesis and analysis of amyloid nanofibrils from plant proteins. It was an exciting opportunity to see my knowledge of biology and chemistry put into application and was definitely a valuable learning experience. Currently, I am enrolled in the Science Co-op programme where I have been matched with Agropur Cooperative, a dairy processing facility where I have been able to put lessons from several classes such as microbiology, chemistry, and physics into application while analysing the quality of milk processed.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I would say that I am an outdoors-type of person; in the winter I will often go snowboarding, while in the summer I love hiking, trekking, cycling, and beaches. I am also an avid fan of playing badminton and football (soccer). Aside from that I mostly spend my time going out with friends or at home either cooking, reading, or on the couch with Netflix on.

What are your plans following graduation?

Currently, I am in Co-op trying to expose myself to different sectors of the food industry to see where I would best fit in after graduation, so my plans after graduation are still a work in progress.

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